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Thread: A MORAL DILEMMA

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    Question

    I keep my bees in three places.

    At home in the city, I am only allowed two hives in the summer months.

    At my farm there is limited sources for the bees to forrage until next year when my clover and alfalfa is mature.

    I do have a better situation at my outfield. It is on another farmers land close to a highway, unfortunate because it is highly visible, and county road. The field is about one hundred yards from the intersection. The landlord has alfalfa on his field and tends not to cut it until it finishes blooming. Odd, but that is the way he does things.

    The field across the road, North, is also alfalfa, and is cut on a different schedule, a good thing.

    The field across the road to the West is Soybeans, and the field North of that is also Soybeans. One just started blooming when the second was planted, another good thing, as I should have a good two months or more of solid blooming in the soybeans intersperced with alfalfa.

    I have been taking my swarm and feral removals there to build up for the winter. It was just a week after I had taken a feral colony there from an old farmhouse, (different story), when I was just watching the bees coming and going that I noticed back behind the dieing weeds, under the hedgerow, not fifteen feet from my six hives, there were two more hives.

    I had no idea that they were there. He had owned the land for at least four years and had never known anyone to place hives there, he thought that they were mine from last year when we had talked about it but I had not taken any there until this year.

    I inspected the hives and took notice that they were 1/4 covered with bee beard. The hive stands were quite rotted and the lower parts of the boxes were showing signs of decay, one had rotted through a small hole.

    Both hives are composed of two deeps and no supers. I looked inside and saw that they were jammed packed with bees that had nothing to do but multiply and swarm. It was quite evident that no one had tended these hives for at least this year if not longer.

    The bees themselves looked like Italians, but were smaller like ferral bees get in the wild. Cute little buggers.

    The boxes were branded and numbered, but the initals were not those of any beekeepers that the landlord knew of.

    We decided that he would make some inquires to try to find the owner. It was evident to us that whoever had them either forgot about them or died. In the meantime instead of wasting their potential, I installed one shallow super on each. It was equipment I hadn't intended to use as I am trying to standardize into mediums and Permacomb. It was decided that if anyone surfaced and took exception that they could have the shallows I placed on the hives.

    After one week the shallows are 80% filled and need replaced! I put one medium on one and will have to come up with something this weekend for the other.



    ------------------
    Bullseye Bill
    Smack dab in the middle of the country.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    They are on this man's property and he doesn't know where they came from. The bees are just going to swarm anyway. I'd get some honey. My guess is they've been there a several years unattended. The small size is natural regression from cocoons.

    How long has the farmer had the place? Seems ood that he wouldn't know where they came from unless they were there before he got the place.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
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    Post

    Sounds like they're abandoned. If I was in that position I'd take them over, and if the guy reappeared I'd work out a deal with him, or return the bees if he insisted.

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    oneonta al.
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    812

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    Bill:
    You said the hives was branded & numbered.
    do you have to Res- your bees with the state? If so they may have the brand on file to whom they belong to.
    here in Ala, If you res your bees & turn in a brand to them they keep it on file as them belonging to you.
    I know a beekeeper that got back some hives that was stolen, because of it.
    might be worth checking into.>>>>Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Wyoming MN
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    I would also try to work through the hives once just to make sure there were no apistan strips forgotten in there. or at least keep the supers separate until you can find out.
    If they were there when he bought the land, it is the responsibility of the previous owner to have them removed. When he didn't do that, I think they technically belong to the landowner. Unless they were stolen and set there until they could be reclaimed. They could also be boxes that were abandoned that swarms moved into. I would try to get info on the brand, but without giving too much info. Then move everything into my own stuff. For the protection of your own hives, with the permission of the landowner. After this long, realistically what should anyone expect to claim. The exception being if you find out they were stolen.

    [This message has been edited by ChellesBees (edited August 05, 2003).]

  6. #6
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    This is just great, I bought a brand new computer and am already having problems with it, at least it gave me 60 seconds to send the message before it shut down.

    >MB- How long has the farmer had the place? Seems ood that he wouldn't know where they came from unless they were there before he got the place.


    At least four years, and when I asked about the hives he indicated that he and his son just noticed them when they cut and baled two weeks ago.


    >MW - You said the hives was branded & numbered.
    do you have to Res- your bees with the state? If so they may have the brand on file to whom they belong to.

    We don't have any state bee anything in Kansas, they dropped the program many years ago. So there is no registration. There is a place to register cattle brands, our family had the BAR V for years but I am sure that it is not registered to us anymore as we did not keep up the yearly filing fees. The brand on these boxes are two initals and one has a name.

    > CB - I would also try to work through the hives once just to make sure there were no apistan strips forgotten in there. or at least keep the supers separate until you can find out.


    Good idea, I only looked in the top box, there was no apistan strips in either of those. There was the remains of a grease patty in one that was propolized over. I scraped the top bars clean before I installed the supers, got a soft ball size chunk of wax from the inner lids and top bars. I really should look in the bottom box though, just to see if they used nine frames in the lower like they did in the upper. Come to think of it, maybe they use only one brood box and one deep for a honey super??? HUMM...

    >I would try to get info on the brand, but without giving too much info. Then move everything into my own stuff.

    Ah! What a terrible temptation it was just to move the frames into my boxes. But alas, I took the high road I hope the landowner doesn't find the owner, he did not sound like he was going to look too hard as he already eliminated the possibilities he knew of. I would be just fine to call them his and work them for him.

    My thought for these bees future care was to not treat them with anything to ward off mites. If they have been living in the wild with no intervention that they should be kept that way.

    What would you do?



    ------------------
    Bullseye Bill
    Smack dab in the middle of the country.

  7. #7
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    I'd probably do just what you are doing. Let the land owner check into it. More than likely they are abandoned, but if he can clear that up or at least make an effort then I think you might as well adopt the poor abandoned orphans. (it actually sounds like they are prospering )


  8. #8
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    Well I'd sure like to find out fast. All I have left to super them with are new boxes of PC, and at $40 + per, I wouldn't want to give those away. After all I did state if he showed up and took exception I would relinquish the boxes I installed.

    After that last post I ruled out the thought of the top box being a super as there is no queen excluder inbetween them.

    Bill

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mason, MI, USA
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    Lightbulb

    In Michigan technically you need written permission from the landowner each year to place anything on his property. If you do not then you are violating the Horton trespass laws and the land owner can clam the items if left for more than 30 days. Check your laws in your state.
    Clint


    ------------------
    Clinton Bemrose
    just South of Lansing Michigan

  10. #10
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    Sep 2001
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    Neodesha, Ks
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    Post

    Another possibility is to contact the fellow that the owner bought the land from and see if there is any info available there. Just a thought

  11. #11
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    The landowner had the place for the last 4 years. He is giving you permission to acquire the hives. End of story. I would not be doing any further search for previous owners, etc. If someone comes forward, then deal with it at that time in a proper manner.

  12. #12
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    Sapulpa,OK USA
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    Lightbulb

    I don't think that it is wrong to go ahead and keep putting suppers onto the hives to collect honey - I don't see why you would have to give up more than the first supers (shallows) that you installed. If a owner does show work out an agreement. Look at it this way if you don't keep adding supers they are likly to swarm. So by working them with your equipment at least the owner has not lost his bees a plus for the original owner. If he turns up he gets the bees and a little honey you get the rest of the honey for your troubles in helping him manage his hives will he could not get to them. Set a date with the land owner - say before the winter sets in and if no one claims the bees before bad weather then they probably are feral bees that happen to be in some old hive bodies.

  13. #13
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    Michael said (way up above)
    <<the small size is natural regression from cocoons>>

    Would you please expound on this , perhaps in another thread?
    Denise

  14. #14
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    Bulleye Bill, Got one more suggestion. As I have a general Idea of where you are talking about these hives, how about putting your name , address and ph# on the supers that you are adding in case the fellow shows up and ask him to contact. Not very likley that you would both be there at the same time due to the remoteness of the location. Let us know how this developes. Dale

  15. #15
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    If nobody contacts you by fall then consider them yours.

  16. #16
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    >Michael said (way up above)
    <<the small size is natural regression from cocoons>>
    Would you please expound on this , perhaps in another thread?

    Every generation of emerging bees leave behind a cocoon. The bees tend to leave these until they feel the cell is too small. Then they chew them back out to the size they like. So in succeding generations the bees get smaller and smaller until the bees finally feel that the cell is too small and then they start chewing out the cocoons. The end result is natural sized bees even though the comb was the "normal" enlarged kind. This takes a lot of generations and the noticably small bees would indicate that no one has swapped out brood comb in many many years.


  17. #17
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    Russ, I think you have a very good idea. I will put a note on it this weekend.

    I will put my name and phone number on it and a 'thanks for the hives'!

    Or how about 'For tips on honey production, look inside the supers!'?

    Or 'Supers for rent, cheap.'

    Kidding aside, thanks for the idea Russ. I will be glad if he shows up, he doesn't take mine along with his.

    I guess it is time to invest in a branding iron.

    Bill

  18. #18
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    Hi Bill and Others, Been wondering how you are coming with finding who's hives you have located. Had almost 8" of rain in the last few days. How are the Bees coming. Dale

  19. #19
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    Oct 2002
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    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    Russ, and other readers;
    Neither I or the farmer who owns the land have been able to locate the owner of the hives.

    In the meantime I have added two supers on one of the hives and three on the other. The flow from the soybeans has dried up and they have not done anything this last two weeks. We did have six inches of rain this weekend, good rain, very little run-off. I expect the later planting across the road to really pick up blooming now.

    My plan is to move my hives back home for the winter and set them on my clover field for next year. I won't move or treat the abandoned hives, however IF they are still there next year I will super them again.

    I may also leave a colony I extracted from an old farmhouse also. It has been surviving fine without any assistance for many years. I has really kicked in, it will produce an excess for feeding my other hives this winter.

    No one really knows the true history of this ferral colony. The landowner who was having the house torn down said that he remembers being stung as a little boy in his bedroom, and that was 60 years ago. I could see the progression of the colony from the lower part of the house up the wall through the floor across the room and up the second story wall to the cieling.

    Back to the subject at hand, no, they are still there and doing just fine producing lots of honey. I will leave them to do what they do naturally, naturally.

    Perhaps I might shake a couple of nucs off of them next spring, you know, just to help them out with overcrowding

    ------------------
    Bullseye Bill
    Smack dab in the middle of the country.

    [This message has been edited by BULLSEYE BILL (edited September 02, 2003).]

  20. #20
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    Glad to hear that you are getting some honey off of them. Sounds like you may have a Suverior [spelling?????] there with the feral hive. Be interesting to see how they do. You may want to raise some queens from them. Keep us posted on the Saga. Dale

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